Thursday, July 11, 2013

IngramSpark, Not Just Yet

I had considered listing my book as a mass market size with the new IngramSpark POD distribution channel, but after looking into it I really do not see the value. Lulu allows me to list my book with Ingram for around $75, and I don’t have to pay to have any books printed and warehoused. Additionally, Ingram requires that I port over an ISBN which costs $125 through Bowker and they then charge an additional $25 to generate a bar code. All of that can be gotten free just for printing with Lulu.

Now, I’m not saying that anyone should choose Lulu. What I’m saying is that I don’t understand why anyone would choose IngramSpark. Well, unless you are actually establishing a publishing house that is. But even then, it really doesn’t make sense to go with a company that requires that you pre-print, takes 55% off the top after printing costs, and puts absolutely all of the liability on you as a self-publisher even though they are the ones doing the physical printing.

Additionally, their system makes pricing unrealistic. A 340 page B format mass market is going to cost a minimum of $14, and that’s just to get into the black. If you want to make a dollar for each copy sold, you have to charge an additional $2.10 minimum, making the book retail for $16.10 or more in the US alone. For some reason, in Australia, the same book would cost about $20 after the conversion to US values. Whereas I can sell roughly the same book for $10.25 through Lulu and make the same dollar per copy. If I raise the price just a little, I can even make a dollar selling it to book stores through Ingram via the Global Reach program.

And this isn’t even scratching the surface when it comes to ebooks, which are free to put on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP.) I can make more than a dollar per copy by charging only $2.99 or less. Heck, I can even make a dollar per copy by lending it out for free.

I can understand Ingram’s desire to get into the POD game. Since so many book stores have closed, there’s little need left for their standard warehousing model, and if they can convince self-publishers to form cooperative publishing houses with unique imprints, they may be able to actually propel indie publishing to the next level, and save their paradigm in the process; but that’s a big if. I can almost imagine romance novelists forming a co-op to compete with Harlequin and the other imprints, but they’d have to build a brand first, and unless somebody in the group has deep pockets, they’d have to do that before moving to IngramSpark.

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